‘You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you’

Churumuri records with regret the passing away of Alex, the African grey parrot, who knew more than 100 human words, had mastered his own brand of one-liners, and made “bird brain” a good word. He was 31 years old.

Bought from a pet store in 1977 by Irene Pepperberg, a comparative psychologist at Brandeis University and Harvard, Alex learnt scores of words, including “calm down” and “good morning” which he picked up at Dr Pepperberg’s lab. But he had also learnt to put them into categories, and to count small numbers of items, as well as recognize colors and shapes.

Even last week, Alex was working with Dr. Pepperberg on compound words and hard-to-pronounce words. As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, she recalled, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

Alex was found dead in his cage the next morning.

Read the New York Times obituary: Brainy parrot dies, emotive to the end

BBC: Parrot oratory stuns scientists

Also read: Rajan (1993-2006)